Thomas Jay McCahill III was an automotive journalist in Larchmont, NY. McCahill graduated from Yale with a degree in Fine Arts. After graduating from Yale, McCahill managed and later owned Murray’s Garage in New York
During the war he wrote articles on a variety of subjects for magazines such as Popular Science, Reader’s Digest and Mechanix Illustrated Magazine. Hitting on the idea that an auto-starved post-wartime public might be interested in articles on new cars, he sold the concept to Mechanix Illustrated in February 1946, first reporting on his own 1946 Ford. His opinions were fearless and this endeared him to some in the automotive world but created enemies too. Ever the sportsman—at six foot two and 250 pounds—he once fought off goons hired by (as was believed at the time) General Motors. It is alleged that he sent two to hospital and the third running.
On many of his earlier road tests, his wife Cynthia would accompany him as his photographer and almost always his black Labrador Retriever, “Boji”. His later assistant was professional driver and photographer Jim McMicheal who was photographed sitting or lying in the trunk of every make tested and was known as “the trunk tester”.
In the 600 road tests he performed and reported on, his favorite cars were the 1953 Bentley Continental and the 1957-62 Imperial, each model year of which he owned as his personal vehicles. In 1950 he purchased a new Ford and proceeded to acquire the assistance of Andy Granatelli in “hopping it up” by switching to high-performance heads and manifolding. He then tested the car extensively and noticed a 90-mile an hour cruising speed. The car became known as the “Mechanix Illustrated Ford” as it was frequently featured in the Magazine. The wise and considerate McCahill de-tuned the car before selling it with 32.000 miles. The fear of mechanical failure at speed concerned McCahill with the safety of any future owner. He purchased a new 1952 Cadillac Series 62 sedan which he eventually raced in NASCAR speed week events. He also purchased new and reported on the ’54 Jeep CJ3A, stating that while his Lincoln was the finest road car available at the time, in the end, the Jeep was the best idea that mankind had ever made. He claimed a Jeep would outrun a contemporary MG. McCahill purchased the first Ford Thunderbird built in 1954 and proceeded to race the car at Daytona Beach.
So how did Tom McCahill say about the Checker? He loved it!. A full review was conducted in the July 1973 edition. Here are a few of his comments
“Absolute top speed at the Daytona Speedway was 109 MPH. Now most of this is fast enough of this is for anyone but a full=blown nut”
“When you get in the back seat you are forced to wonder what the boys who build Cadillacs and Lincolns had in mind and where they lost the interior dimensions. There is enough room in the back to carry an embalmed basketball center with his legs straight out.”
“In summing up, I can’t help but think what a great hunting rig the station wagon would be if somebody could induce the Checker boys to make them with four wheel drive.”
“The Checker car could start a long-lasting affair that might even become a great marriage. What’s more lovable than that?
At age 68, McCahill died at the Daytona Community Hospital on May 10, 1975. Mechanix Illustrated never publicly acknowledged his death, because his name was synonymous with it. He “amounted to the franchise” and management never wanted to admit he was gone. For a while, they ran a column called “McCahill Reports”, which was ghostwritten by Brender.
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I was real good friends of Brooks Brender. We enjoyed French cooking together. He had stents. He was going to come float with us in Lake Michigan wearing my cartridge belt, at Michigan City’s Beach. When he didn’t show up, I called in. His wife’s daughter said he had just passed. That was in Horseheads, New York. He and Tom had a great beach house in Daytona that we visited. You can tell I miss Brooks a lot.